Late last night, the Royals wrapped up win #17 before 38,910 stunned fans in Orange County. It was the team's first win since a 4-2 win over the Devil Rays last Friday; also the last time Mark Redman took the pill. Thanks to a hacktastic Angels offense that was content to pound ground balls all night, Redman (8.0 IP, 4 hits, 3 walks, 1 strikeout) escaped the evening unscathed. In the process, our man lowered his season ERA to 5.68.
Even more remarkably, Burgos pitched through a harrowing 9th, getting a gigantic double-play from the pointlessly intense Darin Erstad. In short, it was the kind of play this team hasn't had enough of during the course of this 17-47 season.
Back to 30 games below .500.
Amazingly, the Royals are a respectable 7-9 in one-run games this year. Actually, thats a fairly bad sign: we can't even claim that they've been unlucky. Pittsburgh, for example, is 7-19 in one-run games, and they've still racked up 9 more wins than our Royals.
For the Royals, it was a team effort, with the lineup's top (David and Grudz) scoring 3 of the 4 runs. In the 8th inning, David led off with a single, and Buddisimo immediately went to the small ball card, having Grudz bunt, the same Grudz who'd already homered and doubled in that game, and is likely the team's best hitter.
Taking Grudz's ability to hit out of the equation for a moment, lets review the basics. Currently, with a runner on first and no outs, a team on average scores .93492 runs that inning. This is the old saw we hear every damn game, "if you get the leadoff man on, he usually scores". Well, in this case, its true. Here's the run expectancy of the result of the bunt, man on second, one out: .73055.
At this point, its irrelevant if the play "worked" or not, the decision needs to be judged on its own merits, not the chance events which follow. (The old example of, "if I run across the street blindly and make it to the other side, was it a good decision?" example). Even so, in this inning, the bunt plainly didn't work, Sanders walked with two outs, which would have moved David to 2nd anyway, to say nothing of Minky's ground out to second beforehand, which would have moved him to 2nd as well. Luckily for the Royals, Stairs stepped up huge and actually got a hit.
Finally, this was the top of the 8th, meaning the Angels still had two more chances. Perhaps we should just be happy the Royals scored and that Buddy wasn't doing this in the 6th or earlier. Still, its a little annoying to take the bat out of Grudz's hands to net a result that the numbers show lowers your chance of scoring. But, it was a chance for Buddy to look all managerial and crafty in kind of a simulated "boy, this is a big moment" kind of way.
Futility Update Through 64 Games:
2003 Tigers: 16-48 (The Tigers were in a 8 game losing streak)
1962 Mets: 17-47
1941 Phillies: 18-46
2006 Royals: 17-47
Those 1930s-40s Phillies were incredibly awful, and its somewhat shocking that the franchise survived so much losing. Ahh, the "Doc Prothro Era" in Philadelphia. Doc was the Buddy Bell of his time, posting a career record of 138-320, thanks a nice three year run of 45-106, 50-103, and 43-111. Doc died in 1971 (moment of silence for Doc Prothro) but maybe he still has a son or grandson around who could contribute to the Royals.
As we all know, the organization has an established fondness for family ties.